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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Montreal Impact, Round 3: Player Grades and Man of the Match



Orlando City has won four straight and kept its faint playoff hopes alive for another week with a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Impact in front of more than 35,000 fans at the Citrus Bowl. The unlikely hero was Seb Hines, who scored the game winner with less than ten minutes left in regulation.

Things started off with a scary midair collision between starting defenders Tommy Redding and Rafael Ramos. Both were stretchered off and Ramos went to the hospital to deal with a severe laceration on his face after a clash of heads left both players woozy.

So Adrian Heath was forced to make two substitutions very early on and despite that, a goal against that shouldn’t have counted, and the appearance of Didier Drogba, the Lions prevailed.

Here are my player grades from Orlando City’s fourth consecutive victory and first over a Canadian team this season:


GK, Tally Hall, 7 – Hall only faced two shots on goal but he was alert to the danger all night, coming out early to keep a ball away from Ambroise Oyongo from becoming a problem, stopping a shot from Johan Venegas late in the game, and catching or punching several crosses away from the danger area as the Impact pushed for a late equalizer. Stopped a dangerous ball in the 43rd minute, only to see Dominic Oduro kick it out of his grasp and in for a goal, which is kind of against the rules, but whatevs.

D, Brek Shea, 8 – Shea was excellent, starting on the left side and shifting over to the right after the injuries sidelined Ramos and Redding. Despite being on his weaker side, Shea caused problems down the right side all evening and mostly took care of his defensive responsibilities. Nearly had goal of the week in the 51st minute but smashed a curling effort off the crossbar from distance.

D, Tommy Redding, N/A – An unfortunate early exit for the young Homegrown Player. Officially left in the 11th minute but was down much earlier than that, getting treatment on the pitch for a long time. Not really enough minutes to make an impact.

D, Aurelien Collin, 8 – The Frenchman cleared everything he got his feet on and played an excellent match. Kept Drogba in check once the Ivorian checked in and was strong in the air. He also moved the ball well all night and helped Orlando keep possession for long spells, particularly in the first half and early in the second half.

D, Rafael Ramos, N/A – Like Redding, his night ended much too soon. Hopefully there are no long-term effects, as the club has two weeks to prepare for New York City FC, and will be without both Brek Shea and Kaká, due to yellow card accumulation.

MF, Servando Carrasco, 8 – Fantastic game for the defensive midfielder. Carrasco broke up plays all over the pitch, filling in for the suspended Cristian Higuita. Higuita’s absence wasn’t even noticeable, which is a huge credit to Servando. Registered four tackles, four interceptions and a clearance, completing 85% of his passes, and helped the backline keep Montreal’s attack in check, along with…

MF, Darwin Ceren, 8 – The Salvadoran was all over the pitch just like his counterpart in the defensive midfield, with six interceptions and three tackles. Narrowly missed a goal in the 27th minute with a rocket from distance. Chipped in a couple of key passes, two crosses and several accurate long balls to go with a team-high 65 passes (completing 84.6%). Another outstanding job by Ceren.

MF, Carlos Rivas, 6 – The Colombian continues to delight with his speed and crossing and utterly disappoint with his shots. None of his four shots were on target but he had a team-high eight crosses and continually bothered the Montreal defense with his pace down whichever wing he was on, drawing several fouls.

MF, Kaká, 7 – The captain seemed just a tad off with his touch at times but was still able to show his quality often. Sent in Carlos Rivas late for what should have been an insurance goal. Only one key pass, no shots and a couple of uncharacteristically heavy touches near the end line, but he was dangerous on crosses, serving five into the box. Did a solid job defensively of staying active and applying pressure.

MF, Lewis Neal, 5.5 – Badly scuffed a shot in the box off a Shea pass in the 13th minute in another underwhelming offensive effort. It was his only shot of the night and he had one key pass. He did manage to complete 91.4% of his passes but made only 35 of them. The Lions seemed to actively avoid his side of the pitch when he swapped spots with Carlos Rivas in the second half, sending the Colombian to the right wing.

F, Cyle Larin, 6.5 – The Canadian was just a touch off much of the night but he did score a goal off a bad Montreal giveaway in the 33rd minute and his presence up top was clearly a concern for the Impact defense. Drew only one foul and he seemed to tire midway through the second half.


D, Luke Boden (11′), 6.5 – A bit of a mixed bag for Luke tonight, with several crucial challenges but also turned the ball over leading to Montreal’s goal and got beat a few times late, allowing the Impact to get some dangerous crosses into the box in search of their equalizer. A workmanlike effort and did well to get the ball back into the box on what eventually became Seb Hines’ game-winning goal.

D, Seb Hines (11′), 8 (MOTM) – Seb returned from a dislocated shoulder suffered last week and made it pay off. He and Collin really owned the defensive third. Hines finished with four interceptions, two tackles, a clearance and a blocked shot, to go along with his 80th-minute winning goal. Completed nearly 85% of his passes and was calm on the ball and with the ball pinging around in the box.

F, Bryan Rochez (69′), 5.5 – Replaced Lewis Neal in the 69th minute and wasn’t terribly involved, seeing his three-game goal-scoring streak come to an end. Rochez was good in holdup play but didn’t complete (or attempt) many passes. Did manage a shot on target and played well defensively, heading away a clearance in the late stages.

Those are my player ratings. Vote below for your Orlando City Man of the Match.

Polling Closed

Player Votes
Brek Shea 62
Aurelien Collin 43
Seb Hines 95
Servando Carrasco 25
Darwin Ceren 28
Other (let us know who in the comments section below) 2

Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/2/23

The Pride sign a new keeper, the MLS playoffs continue, the USWNT is in action, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Salutations on this satisfactory Saturday, Mane Landers. We’re heading for the home stretch of 2023, and what a year it has been. Make sure that you are catching all of our Season in Review articles for both the Orlando City and Orlando Pride players. Things tend to happen personnel-wise in December, so be prepared. Until then, let’s check out today’s links. But first, let’s wish a happy 26th birthday to Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar.

Pride Sign a New Keeper

The Orlando Pride signed Finnish goalkeeper Sofia Manner from FC Honka of Finland’s top flight, the Kansallinen Liiga. With the addition of Manner, the Pride have four keepers on the roster heading into 2024. Manner is expected to compete for the starting job, though the same could be said of both Anna Moorhouse and Carly Nelson. It is unlikely all four netminders will be on the Pride once the season starts. Manner has international experience and was the best keeper in the Kansallinen Liiga.

MLS Conference Finals Tonight

I wouldn’t blame you if you decided not to watch the remainder of the MLS playoffs after last weekend’s disappointing result. However, if you are going see how it all sorts out, you might want to study up on the matches. We’re all too aware that the Columbus Crew will be facing FC Cincinnati to see which club wins the Eastern Conference. Over on the other side, LAFC will take on the Houston Dynamo to determine the Western Conference champion.

MLS Player Moves

As the playoffs come to a close, the signings and transfers around the league are ramping up, but who will stay and who will go? New York Red Bulls midfielder Dru Yearwood is heading to Nashville SC as reported by The Athletic (paywalled) since Dax McCarthy is out of contract there and won’t be returning.

The Philadelphia Union have signed midfielder Jesus Bueno to a new three-year contract through 2026 with an option for 2027. Meanwhile, Gustavo Bou won’t be returning to the New England Revolution. So, um…maybe he’d like to come south and score goals for Orlando City rather than against the Lions? Before anyone gets too crazy, it should be on a non-DP deal.

USWNT Hosts China

The USWNT is back in friendly action against China this afternoon in Ft. Lauderdale at 3 p.m. and then on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. in Frisco TX. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore will be in charge since newly-named Head Coach Emma Hayes doesn’t start until the 2023-2024 Women’s Super League season in England is over. Hayes is the current head coach of Chelsea FC Women’s. This is the first match between the two teams since 2018, and a lot has changed. The USWNT has been very solid on defense in 2023, allowing only two goals back in the SheBelieves Cup.

Free Kicks

  • If you haven’t heard of a “sin bin,” think of it like a penalty box in hockey. The idea has been getting a runout in lower league matches in English football by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) with some good results. It’s not yet confirmed, but MLS may institute the change in 2024. The idea is to reduce dissension by having a player sit for 10 minutes during a match. Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou has spoken out against the idea. What do you think of the concept?
  • Real Salt Lake has promoted Kurt Schmid to sporting director and interim chief soccer officer.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo will have to deal with a $1 billion class-action lawsuit for his role in promoting NFTs for Binance. Maybe that’s why he signed for Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League?
  • Speaking of the Saudi Pro League, it looks like Mohamed Salah may not be leaving EPL side Liverpool anytime soon. The prolific striker is looking for a new contract to stay at Anfield.
  • I’ll take things Pedro Gallese would not do for $400, Alex.

That will do it for today. Please go forth and enjoy your weekend!

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Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Kyle Smith

Let’s look back at The Accountant’s fifth MLS season.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Fullback Kyle Smith was originally signed on Dec. 21, 2018 when James O’Connor was Orlando City’s head coach. He proved to be a valuable Swiss Army knife-type player and earned a new contract on March 29, 2021 through the 2022 season with a 2023 club option. Orlando City picked up his 2023 option at the end of the 2022 season but then signed Smith to a new one-year contract for 2023 just weeks later with an option for 2024.

Let’s have a look back at The Accountant’s fifth MLS season.

Statistical Breakdown

Smith appeared in 25 matches during the 2023 regular season, starting 17 times and logging 1,501 minutes. It was his third-most appearances but his second-most minutes since making the jump from Louisville City to MLS ahead of the 2019 season. He scored one goal and assisted on three others, setting a new career high in the latter category. Smith attempted seven shots, putting two on target. He passed at a 78.7% clip, including nine key passes, five successful crosses, and 36 successful long passes. Defensively, Smith recorded 35 tackles, 16 interceptions, 40 clearances, and two blocked shots. He drew eight fouls while committing 20 and was booked five times on the year.

The 31-year-old appeared in all three of Orlando City’s three playoff matches — both off the bench — and logged 65 minutes. He did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting one shot, which he put on frame. He passed at an 82.5% rate in the postseason. He posted two tackles and a clearance defensively. He did not commit a foul or draw one and he wasn’t booked.

In the 2023 Concacaf Champions League, Smith came off the bench in the first leg at Tigres, playing minutes, passing at just a 25% rate (small sample size), did not attempt a shot, did not draw or concede a foul, and was not booked.

During Leagues Cup play, Smith appeared in all three of Orlando’s matches (all starts), logging 150 minutes. He did not contribute to a goal or attempt a shot in the tournament, committing four fouls and earning two yellow cards. Smith did not play in Orlando City’s lone U.S. Open Cup match.

Best Game

Smith’s best match of 2023 came in Orlando City’s 1-1 home draw against Atlanta United on May 27, and not only because that’s when he scored his lone goal of the season, although that doesn’t hurt. El Soldado started and went the full 90 minutes. He fired two shots on the night, putting one on target (and in the net), and passed at an exceptional 90.3% rate on 31 attempts, which was his third-best passing night of the season. He completed two successful long balls on two attempts, chipping in four clearances (second only to Antonio Carlos), a tackle, and an interception on the night. His big moment came in the 30th minute, when a well-worked attack up the left kicked out to him on the right side. Smith was perfectly positioned and made no mistake in putting the Lions ahead 1-0.

Although the match was spoiled by a late equalizer, Smith turned in one of his best performances since joining Orlando City and if not for his goal, the outcome might have been a lot more somber than a 1-1 draw.

2023 Final Grade

Smith received a composite score of 6 out of 10 for his 2023 performance from The Mane Land staff. This is an improvement over the 5.5 he earned last year but slightly below the 6.5 he earned for the 2021 season. Previously, Smith was given a 5.5 in 2020 and he got the same score after the 2019 season. The staff awarded Smith for his effort, versatility, and willingness to do whatever it takes to win. He is the quintessential team player. But beyond all of the above, he simply played well most of his minutes on the pitch. At his age, he’s going to struggle to contain the league’s speediest wing players, particularly when playing on his weaker left side, but his ability to adapt is unquestioned. The perfect example of that was when he was tucking inside from his fullback spot earlier in the season to add an additional player to the midfield and freeing Facundo Torres up to have more space in which to operate on the right side.

2024 Outlook

Smith’s return may ultimately rest with whether or not Oscar Pareja stays on with the Lions, although a decision might need to be made earlier than that, as the club must make a decision on his option. Pareja has valued Smith’s versatility and work ethic over the last few years, and with more competitions and matches than ever before, it’s always good to have a depth player who can plug and play in multiple positions. He played his second-most MLS minutes in 2023, so he’s still seeing the field plenty.

If I had to guess, and this section is for exactly that, I’d say the club will either exercise his option or sign him to a new one-year deal with an option year for 2025. However, what complicates matters is that Smith is over age 24 and has played five MLS seasons, which means he’s eligible for free agency. If he’s back in 2024, I would expect him to again be a key backup at both fullback positions, getting some spot starts in U.S. Open Cup or when fixture congestion is heavy.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

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Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Abdi Salim

We continue our Orlando City player retrospectives with a look at one of the Lions’ 2023 draft picks.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City used its third pick of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft to select Abdi Salim with the 17th overall pick. Salim played his college soccer at Syracuse and the Lions picked up the center back to help with depth at a position that didn’t really have a ton of established bodies behind Antonio Carlos, Robin Jansson, and Rodrigo Schlegel. He was then signed to a one-year deal in February that contained three option years for the 2024, 2025, and 2026 seasons.

Let’s have a look at Salim’s first season as a professional.

Statistical Breakdown

Salim made his Major League Soccer debut at home against FC Cincinnati on March 4. It was Salim’s only start of the year and he went the full 90 minutes as the Lions drew 0-0 against the eventual Supporters’ Shield winners. He made two other appearances in away games against D.C. United and Charlotte FC, both of which ended as 1-1 draws as he finished with 148 MLS minutes on the year.

Defensively he recorded four tackles, four interceptions, three clearances, a block, and won two aerial duels. He did not record any offensive statistics, but was solid with his distribution as he averaged 87.3% passing accuracy and completed one cross and one long ball each.

Given that it was only his first season as a professional, he spent the bulk of his time in MLS NEXT Pro with Orlando City B. With the Young Lions he played in 16 matches, starting 14 of them and racking up 1,162 minutes. He finished with 11 interceptions and a tackle while committing seven fouls and drawing 11 and picking up one yellow card. Salim took nine shots, put two of them on target, and scored a goal on each one he got on frame. He passed very well, finishing with a 90.2% success rate, two key passes, and 18 long balls.

Best Game

The honor of his best game goes to his first ever professional appearance, when he started and played the whole game in the aforementioned 0-0 draw against FC Cincinnati. Salim finished with three tackles, three clearances, and an interception while passing with 87% accuracy, completing a long ball on his only attempt, and helping the Lions keep a clean sheet at home. He was a bit shaky at first, as he was deployed as the third center back in a three-man back line, but he settled down in the second half and finished with a grade of 5.5 out of 10 from Nic Josey.

2023 Final Grade

Given that Salim didn’t crack 200 minutes and we require a minimum of 450 to award a grade for the season, he receives an incomplete for the 2023 season. He did some good things when down with Orlando City B, and filled in well enough with the senior side when called upon, but we simply need to see more of him in order to figure out what he’s really able to do.

2024 Outlook

It’s likely that Salim will spend more time with Orlando City B next season, but with no one seemingly laying claim to the fourth center back position, he should have a chance to show what he’s capable of during preseason. He seemed to be in competition with Thomas Williams for the back up spot not occupied by Rodrigo Schlegel, but he may have moved past him in the pecking order as he made more appearances than the Homegrown signing, both with OCSC and OCB. Regardless, as an inexpensive young player with potential, there’s no reason to think he won’t be here next year.

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